Tiger Woods wins PGA Event after 923 day drought – Can your business bounce back from a major set-back? 0

923 days later, back in business

As you can see from his website, Tiger Woods is a business. Like all businesses, his customers make him successful. On a fateful night in November, several years ago, he lost the trust of many of his customers (fans). Then there was the famous news conference and the rehab. His business lost sponsors. For those first few months it seemed like Tiger Woods as a business was over.

Yesterday all the newscasters could talk about was the new Tiger. One pointed out that many golfers have an initial burst of success, followed by a plateau, followed by a second wave of success in the sport.  Tiger’s initial burst of success included winning 71 PGA tournaments and the Arnold Palmer six times. His win yesterday is what is surely the first of many more as Tiger Woods continues to take the steps needed to once again be successful on the golf course.

As I watched Tiger play the final holes yesterday, my mind shot to the chapter in Peter Shankman’s book, Customer Service – New Rules for a Social Media World. In chapter five Peter talks about Stopping Small Problems From Becoming Big Problems.  On February 19, 2010, one of the headlines was “Will Tiger Woods quit golf for good?” That same day Tiger held a Press Conference. “People learned more about Tiger in the past 15 minutes” than they have through his whole career, said Geek Factory CEO Peter Shankman on Fox News.

After the news conference, Religion reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman outlined her thoughts on how Tiger could recover from this; Admit your wrongs, take responsibility for them, express your regrets to all who were harmed, and spell out your path to return to integrity and righteousness.

No one likes to think that something bad will happen to their business, but not having a plan on how to handle set-backs is bad. By thinking ahead about the unthinkable, you  may be able to minimize the damage, keep your customers and even turn them into raving fans in the end.

So it’s on to Augusta as the new Tiger continues to reinvent himself, both on and off the golf course.

Is Your Organization Doomed To Fail? 0

“If the rate of change externally is greater than the rate of change internally, then your organization is doomed to fail.” Dan Cathy, President and COO Chick-Fil-A

I discovered Chick-Fil-A when I was a salesman for a small audio electronics chain, Harvey’s Warehouse. The year was 1977 and the store was located in the Coliseum Mall, Hampton Virginia. My store was just a few shops down from their location.  That Chick-Fil-A was always busy and not just at lunch or dinner. I can’t remember ever walking by and not seeing lines. Even back then they had figured out a niche and were exploiting it. 30 some years later, Chick-Fil-A is still packing in their “raving fans” and continuing to grow. (Learn more by reading Manage Better Now’s complete coverage of Dan Cathy’s speech given at the University of Tampa)

In the 1980′s I was a store manager for the catalog merchandiser Best Product’s Company, Inc. I had managed seven stores in seven years and had moved around the state of Virginia, finally returning to my wife’s home town of Hampton, VA. Life seemed great, the company had just hit a billion in  sales and my future with them seemed ripe with opportunity. And then we acquired Modern Merchandising. The next twelve months proved fatal for our company.

We began assimilating all of the buying offices throughout the country and consolidating our distribution centers. We changed the names on the buildings to our Best Products logo. We even had T-shirts made. It was only twelve months, but the attention this required took our focus off of driving sales and staying in front of the next trend. When we  lifted our heads up and began to focus once again on what our customers wanted, we looked around and said “hey, where’d  everybody go?”

Best Products  was the next new thing when we opened. Having a Best Product’s card was a status symbol in many circles. Yet, as I see it now with the benefit of hind-sight, when we acquired Modern Merchandising, we momentarily lost our focus on what our customers wanted just as they were demanding something different. Our customer’s “rate of change externally” was far greater than our “rate of change internally”. The closing of the company was several years later, but the handwriting was on the wall.

So how’s your business? Are you focusing on what’s now or what’s next? If you need some inspiration, maybe you should go have a chicken sandwich.

Three reasons Warren Buffet was wrong about Management 2

“Lacking standards, managements are tempted to shoot the arrow of performance, and then paint the bull’s eye around wherever it lands,” said the “Oracle of Omaha”, Warren Buffet, CEO and the largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway.

We have all been guilty at times of taking whatever limited success we have achieved and finding a way to put a positive spin on it. “Mission Accomplished” on the deck of an aircraft carrier springs to mind. Yet the very idea that we must always know what we are measuring before we measure it seems awkward as well.

Here are three reasons to “paint the bull’s eye last:

  1. You only see the problem - Knowing what the problem is gets the project started. After writing my book, I was working to understand my Brand, my strengths, what I could offer. The search led me to recognize that I had interviewed thousands of people and had read over 5,000 resumes and applications. This realization led to a my Onestopjobsonline.com Jobs board and moved the target
  2. Getting feedback as the project evolves helps you see where to place the target – As I received more and more questions about interviewing and hiring skills, I began to write tips, articles and this led to presenting a staff training program titled “You’re Hired” for the NJ Dept of Labor in Toms River. When I first shot the arrow, I wasn’t aware of the local agency
  3. It’s hard to hit a moving target – To survive and remain successful means growth and movement. Wednesday I shot the cover picture for my next book, Write this down, you will need it later. The book is targeted at students. Many times at graduation, students have many transferable skills, but little real world work experience. My latest project is filled with information on how students can package their accomplishments into a personal brand that is recognizable during the interview process.  I will be taking this message on the road, working with students to give them the tools they need to land jobs.  When I sat down to write the first words of my first book, my focus was much narrower.

I admit I would not have made much progress without targets.  In fact, I have hundreds of targets, each with its own date and time attached to it.  Being competitive requires a target to measure against.  All of us put up mini-targets all day long; to get to work by 8AM, to get the kids to band practice, to pick up our dry cleaning before the shop closes.

Yet, for the big picture, with all due respect to the “Oracle of Omaha”, I would recommend not being so quick to paint the bull’s eye. You may be surprised how much bigger your target becomes.

“Not in this economy!” That’s not why I buy 7

I was speaking with a vendor who services many supermarkets. He was talking about how his sales have changed since 2008. As the subject of advertising came up, I asked him how effective  POP (point of sale) signage is in this economy. It seemed to me that this would be a great way for people to see the value in an item as they were making their selection.

My friend had a different view.  He said:

“People aren’t buying POP ads anymore; not in this economy. People are shopping with a calculator.”

An informal poll among two or three shoppers in the aisle did not reveal any evidence either way, so I thought I would put the question to you, my readers. Please take a moment and let me know your thoughts. Not that I am competitive, but I can’t wait to see who is right.

1.3 Million Jobs created last year – Five reasons why you didn’t get one 16

1.3 million new jobs created last year

The radio announcer was excited to report that in the past year there have been over 1.3 million new jobs created. With that many new jobs out there, I got to thinking why someone might not get one of those jobs. Those of you who have not landed a job should review the list and see what you might want to brush up on before your next interview.

Here are my top five reasons you didn’t get the job:

  1. You didn’t research the company – If one of the first questions you ask is “what exactly do you do?”, then you are wasting the interviewer’s time. Learn as much as you can about the company, including a recent headline that you can drop into the opening conversation
  2. You didn’t show how you increased sales - You need to demonstrate that you can contribute to the bottom line. Even if your job does not have the word sales in its title, you have ways you can increase revenue. Think of at least three specific examples and be ready to share them
  3. You didn’t show how you decreased expenses – There must be hundreds of little things you have done over the years to save companies that you have worked for money. Think of three examples tailored to the company you are applying to and then relate the story of how you saved the dollars and the impact that had to the company’s bottom line
  4. You didn’t show how you provided excellent customer service – There are times in everyone’s job where they interact with customers. Being able to give specific  examples instead of saying “I’m a people person” will give the interviewer a story he or she can remember when the final hiring decision is made. Be sure to include the problem, your solution and what the final outcome was.
  5. You never gave yourself permission to be successful – Napoleon Hill noted almost 100 years ago that most people need to be made “success conscious” before they can achieve their dreams. You need to be comfortable about the salary and the position. If deep down (maybe sub-consciously) you do not feel you deserve the job, then something will get in the way of your achieving it.

The good news is there are still jobs being created. Review my list and adjust as needed. Then enthusiastically go after that next job. I’m sure you will end up in a New Hire Orientation before you know it.

“Spring Ahead” – Three lessons managers can learn from daylight savings time 5

Did you "Spring Ahead"?

As managers, we can learn three valuable lessons from “Spring Ahead”. Let’s look at Sally and Sam and see what they did in order to make it to church on time this morning.

  1. Preparation – Sally  cut out the reminder notice from her local newspaper about setting the clocks forward and posted it on the refrigerator. Sam had heard someone mention it in the hallway at work and assumed he would remember
  2. Planning – Sally and family knew they wanted to arrive at church on time and planned ahead by taking care of their clocks the night before. Sam assumed he would get to it , but did not before going to bed.
  3. Prioritizing – Sam started watching a late movie on TV and found it more important  than taking the time to set his clock ahead. Sally and family made setting the clocks ahead a priority, each taking a room and moving the time forward before retiring . One of the kids actually went out and changed the clock in the family car.

Sally and family accomplished their goal and the next day  made it to church on time. Sam woke up this morning, had forgotten all about daylights savings time and got to church just as the service ended.

Even something as routine as changing the clocks has valuable lessons for successful managers. Sally acted like a good manager would, and took steps to meet her objectives. Sam did not and the result was he missed church. On a personal level, all that was lost by Sam was a little self-esteem and pride as he explained to his pastor why he missed church.

But what if Sam and Sally were competing in business? What if they  both had a new product launch scheduled to rollout?  Who do you think applied the lessons from “Spring Ahead”? Who do you think would be the successful manager?

Four reasons your plan is too complicated 2

Do we have anything, like, resembling a plan, or anything?

I was on the treadmill at the gym this afternoon and on one of the TV’s they were running Bruce Willis in Live Free or Die Hard. I had seen the movie before and was concentrating more on getting to 1.5 miles in less than 20 minutes when this scene caught my attention:

Matt Farrell: Do we have anything, like, resembling a plan, or anything?
John McClane: Find Lucy, kill everybody else.
Matt Farrell: I mean, more like a plan, like, a way to do that.

Right after this John McClane (Bruce Willis) picks up a pipe wrench and takes out bad guys with his bare hands. The Geek, Matt Farrell, who is interested in John’s daughter,  is armed with a laptop and quite a bit of theory.

The whole scene  reminded me how sometimes managers can over complicate things. In fact, here are four reasons why your plan is too complicated:

  1. It’s over thought – it’s very detailed and complex. It smacks of “justifying your position” instead of a realistic plan
  2. It’s not taking into account the resources at hand. It might be a great plan if you had 20 super-star employees, but your budget is forcing you to do it with ten and you can’t choose which employees you get. So now the plan is not realistic.
  3. It’s not addressing the real issue. (This could be a plug for my book!) Your plan isn’t going to address the real issue and later you are going to need to go back and fix it.
  4. It’s not timely - it’s a 5 year plan for a two-week deadline

You might get lucky in the end, I mean Matt Farrell did get the girl. But did you see what he had to go through? Now if he had a less complicated plan…

My Garbage Man said “I’ll check with my office” 0

 

“I’ll check with my office”

It wasn’t just that he said “I’ll check with my office” when I asked him about a special pick up, it was the way he said it. If my eyes had been closed I would have pictured him in a three-piece suit standing at one end of a large conference table with Board Members and Senior Executives all waiting to hear what he had to say next.

And it wasn’t forced. His comment was as natural as if he was asking you to pass the butter at the dinner table. His answer was also sincere. He really wanted to take care of my needs, as the customer, and I walked away from our interaction just knowing that he would “check with his office” and I would get the extra pick up I needed.

I once had an employee leave because he felt he was being asked to do something that was beneath him. He wasn’t able to project, even to himself, an attitude that says “I’m proud of myself and I take pride in what I do.” He got lost in what he perceived the “status of the job” to be.

Having a positive attitude about yourself works in your favor in so many ways. Here are just a few:

  • You want a promotion at work – If your attitude is that you already have the job and your actions show you are doing the job, you will be in the right place when the opening occurs
  • You are interviewing for a job – Your positive, I can solve your problem, attitude will strike a chord during the interview. Combine that with some specific examples of how you have solved problems in the past and you are on your way to hearing “when can you start”

It has been over 10 years since my garbage man told me “I’ll check with my office”. He made a huge impression that day. Think about your attitude, adjust as necessary and let me know how this works for you.

 

How healthy are your employees? Three things to check 4

Davy Jones

RIP Davy Jones, Monkee Extraordinaire (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
Davy Jones, the British-born singer-actor who was frontman for the Monkees from the show’s beginning in 1966 and continued in that role, died in Florida at age 66. Initial reports indicate Jones suffered a heart attack at his ranch.

I had just gotten off the phone with one of my employees who suffered a heart attack at work when I heard the news about Davy Jones. Last week I had an employee out for an operation. The week before that, it was an employee going for a cancer screening.

Let’s face it, for any business to survive, we need healthy employees. Employees who can perform at their peak when the job calls for it. As managers, we need to know the health of our workforce as much as we need to understand the financial health of our business. Here are three quick checks:

1. What is the average age of your workforce? Craig Juengling, The E2 Coach,  said in a recent  blog post  that there are four common age groupings in many companies: Gen Xer, Millennial, Boomer and Mature. Take a look at your workforce and understand where you stand

2. How much sick time do you pay? Things happen. Reviewing this will help you spot trends. But be careful how you draw conclusions as many employees use sick time for purposes other than what an employer had in mind.

3. How many Workers Comp claims do you have? Reviewing this (and by law, most of you had to post this in January) will highlight what your specific company issues are so you can focus training programs to address them.

Jones death was sudden and unexpected. Things will happen at your company that are sudden and unexpected. While the health of an employee can change in a moment, the health of your company evolves slowly, over time. You can make an impact on the health of your business, but first you must know where you stand.